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1.  Targeting HMGB1-mediated autophagy as a novel therapeutic strategy for osteosarcoma 
Autophagy  2012;8(2):275-277.
Autophagy is a catabolic process critical to maintaining cellular homeostasis and responding to cytotoxic insult. Autophagy is recognized as “programmed cell survival” in contrast to apoptosis or programmed cell death. Upregulation of autophagy has been observed in many types of cancers and has been demonstrated to both promote and inhibit antitumor drug resistance depending to a large extent on the nature and duration of the treatment-induced metabolic stress as well as the tumor type. Cisplatin, doxorubicin and methotrexate are commonly used anticancer drugs in osteosarcoma, the most common form of childhood and adolescent cancer. Our recent study demonstrated that high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1)-mediated autophagy is a significant contributor to drug resistance in osteosarcoma cells. Inhibition of both HMGB1 and autophagy increase the drug sensitivity of osteosarcoma cells in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the ULK1-FIP200 complex is required for the interaction between HMGB1 and BECN1, which then promotes BECN1-PtdIns3KC3 complex formation during autophagy. Thus, these findings provide a novel mechanism of osteosarcoma resistance to therapy facilitated by HMGB1-mediated autophagy and provide a new target for the control of drug-resistant osteosarcoma patients.
doi:10.4161/auto.8.2.18940
PMCID: PMC3336081  PMID: 22301993
osteosarcoma; HMGB1; autophagy; apoptosis; chemotherapy
2.  A critical role for UVRAG in apoptosis 
Autophagy  2011;7(10):1242-1244.
Autophagy and apoptosis are tightly regulated biological processes that are crucial for cell growth, development and tissue homeostasis. UVRAG (UV radiation resistance-associated gene), a mammalian homolog of yeast Vps38, activates the Beclin 1/PtdIns3KC3 (class III phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase) complex, which promotes autophagosome formation. Moreover, UVRAG promotes autophagosome maturation by recruiting class C Vps complexes (HOPS complexes) and Rab7 of the late endosome. We found that UVRAG has anti-apoptotic activity during tumor therapy through interactions with Bax. UVRAG inhibits Bax translocation from the cytosol to mitochondria during chemotherapy- or UV irradiation-induced apoptosis of human tumor cells. Moreover, deletion of the UVRAG C2 domain abolishes Bax binding and anti-apoptotic activity. These results suggest that, in addition to its previously recognized pro-autophagy activity in response to starvation, UVRAG has cytoprotective functions in the cytosol that control the localization of Bax in tumor cells exposed to apoptotic stimuli.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.10.16507
PMCID: PMC3210309  PMID: 21606679
UVRAG; Bax; apoptosis; autophagy; mitochondria; tumor therapy
3.  Autophagy regulates myeloid cell differentiation by p62/SQSTM1-mediated degradation of PML-RARα oncoprotein 
Autophagy  2011;7(4):401-411.
PML-RARα oncoprotein is a fusion protein of promyelocytic leukemia (PML) and the retinoic acid receptor-α (RARα) and causes acute promyelocytic leukemias (APL). A hallmark of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) responses in APL is PML-RARα degradation, which promotes cell differentiation. Here, we demonstrated that autophagy is a crucial regulator of PML-RARα degradation. Inhibition of autophagy by short hairpin (sh) RNA that target essential autophagy genes such as ATG1, ATG5 and PI3KC3, and by autophagy inhibitors (e.g., 3-methyladenine), blocked PML-RARα degradation and subsequently granulocytic differentiation of human myeloid leukemic cells. In contrast, rapamycin, the mTOR kinase inhibitor, enhanced autophagy and promoted ATRA-induced PML-RARα degradation and myeloid cell differentiation. Moreover, PML-RARα co-immunoprecipitated with the ubiquitin-binding adaptor protein p62/SQSTM1, which is degraded through autophagy. Furthermore, knockdown of p62/SQSTM1 inhibited ATRA-induced PML-RARα degradation and myeloid cell differentiation. The identification of PML-RARα as a target of autophagy provides new insight into the mechanism of action of ATRA and its specificity for APL.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.4.14397
PMCID: PMC3127220  PMID: 21187718
autophagy; differentiation; oncoprotein; leukemia; degradation; PML-RARa; p62/SQSTM1
4.  DAMP-mediated autophagy contributes to drug resistance 
Autophagy  2011;7(1):112-114.
Damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) are cellularly derived molecules that can initiate and perpetuate immune responses following trauma, ischemia and other types of tissue damage in the absence of pathogenic infection. High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a prototypical DAMP and is associated with the hallmarks of cancer. Recently we found that HMGB1 release after chemotherapy treatment is a critical regulator of autophagy and a potential drug target for therapeutic interventions in leukemia. Overexpression of HMGB1 by gene transfection rendered leukemia cells resistant to cell death; whereas depletion or inhibition of HMGB1 and autophagy by RNA interference or pharmacological inhibitors increased the sensitivity of leukemia cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. HMGB1 release sustains autophagy as assessed by microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) lipidation, redistribution of LC3 into cytoplasmic puncta, degradation of p62 and accumulation of autophagosomes and autolysosomes. Moreover, these data suggest a role for HMGB1 in the regulation of autophagy through the PI3KC3-MEKERK pathway, supporting the notion that HMGB1-induced autophagy promotes tumor resistance to chemotherapy.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.1.14005
PMCID: PMC3039734  PMID: 21068541
DAMP; autophagy; HMGB1; chemotherapy resistance; leukemia; PI3KC3; ERK

Results 1-4 (4)